With State polls round the corner in Delhi and a need to bring reforms in the electoral process, Amity Law School, Delhi organised a National Seminar on “Electoral Reforms in India: Prospects and Challenges” University Campus, Sector- 125, Noida
Shri Hari Shankar Brahma -Chief Election Commissioner of India; Ms. Pinky Anand, Senior Advocate and Additional Solicitor General of India and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Bhanwar Singh, Retired Judge, Allahabad High Court; Prof. (Dr.) B P Sehgal- Director, Amity Law School, Delhi; Prof. M K Balachandran- professor of Eminence and Chair Professor for Chair for Law, Amity Law School, Delhi inaugurated the Seminar.
Welcoming the distinguished gathering, Prof. (Dr.) B P Sehgal- Director, Amity Law School, Delhi thanked the legal luminaries for gracing the occasion. Sharing his views on the theme of the Seminar,, Dr. Sehgal said that during the last more than 6 decades, the election process in India has strengthened the democracy and the faith of people in rule of law. However, the electoral reforms have been taken off by several Committees and Commissions appointed by the Government of India and valuable suggestions and recommendations have been implemented by Government from time to time by amending the People’s Representative Act. Efforts have been made to have a qualitative improvement in the conduct of election process to meet the needs of the wider denomination. He expressed his hope that the day long deliberations will result in concrete proposals for bringing in effective electoral reforms in the country.
Shri Hari Shankar Brahma -Chief Election Commissioner of India stressed that India is one of the youngest democracies in the world with largest number of voters, nearly 84 crores. Every Indian who is above 18 are eligible to vote and the youth between 18-19 years of age comprises of 2.5% of total population . He shared that it is the endeavor of Election Commission to ensure that every eligible citizen in India gets an opportunity to vote. He outlined that present generation is very impatient; it does not want to stand in queue for an hour to cast a vote. He implored all the youth especially the first time voters to come out and vote for their representatives since they cannot blame or accuse anyone or anything unless and until they themselves vote.
He shared that there are over 545 Parliamentary seats, 250 Rajya Sabha Seats and 4,120 Assembly seats in the country. Political Parties are very important since they select the candidates, choose their political agendas and on them lay the responsibility of the country. He remarked that unless and until, the Government has a strong desire to improve the condition of the country, the condition of the country will not improve. Quoting Thomas Hobbes- English Philosopher, he quoted, “It is not the wisdom but the authority that makes the law” and stressed the authority in India is the Government; the Parliament makes the law and Bureaucrats and Judiciary ensure their implementation.
He shared that Election Commission is taking all necessary steps to ensure smooth conduct of upcoming elections in Delhi, ensuring once gain the huge voters turn out including the first time voters.
Ms. Pinky Anand, Senior Advocate and Additional Solicitor General of India outlined that Indian election process has undergone a long way in last 20 years. She remarked that electoral franchise in India is one of the noblest fundamental rights and obligations given to the citizens of the country and the youth of the country is performing it better and stronger. The recent election results have not only shown huge turnout of 64.4% which shows the eagerness of Indian citizens especially, the first time voters between the age group of 18-19 years to participate in the elections. Talking about electoral reforms, she enumerated various changes that have come in electoral process over the years including fundamental Right of the citizens to know in detail about the contestants which include the declaration of Contestants’ assets, liabilities, pending criminal cases, if any. Poverty, no longer, is seen as criteria to get through the eligibility of nomination in the election process and contestants with money are no longer looked down upon. People are aware about whom they are voting for. Talking about de-criminalization of Politics, she said that 168 out of 541 MPs in India are having criminal charges against them. She further remarked, “We have an extremely strange country; the criminal cases go on for 20-30 years after which a person may be convicted or acquitted, so should a person bear the ignominy of being thrown out of the election. That is why an interim arrangement was made to try to safeguard the people to have good legislators at the same time, not to debar the people who may be targeted against. If a person is convicted and found guilty, then he or she is dis-qualified to participate in elections.” She stressed that all the citizens are responsible for ensuring that the system improves without any dissuasion
Hon’ble Mr. Justice Bhanwar Singh, Retired Judge, Allahabad High Court, while sharing his views, stressed on the need of qualified Legislators and Parliamentarians in India who could efficiently contribute to the legislation. Qualified people can do better as Parliamentarians and Legislators He remarked that electoral reforms are not easy; Apex Court has contributed a lot towards the electoral reforms. There has always been a clash between the Legislature and the Judiciary, sometimes Judiciary pronounces a judgment and it is undone by the Legislature but then Legislature comes across an embarrassment and it is for this embarrassment that Government took back that ordinance and now, Convicts cannot contest the elections and they cannot become the members of Parliament. He stressed that electoral reforms have not been an easy exercise it has taken more than 5-6 decades to come to the present stage. He called upon the youth to get over the silos of Caste, Creed, Region and Religion and contribute towards the growth of the country.
During the day, various technical sessions unfolded including “Contemporary Issues in Electoral Reforms”, “Criminalization of Politics”, “None of the Above Option (NOTA)” and “Election Funding and Model Code of Conduct” by eminent academicians from notable Law Colleges and Institutes including Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, Symbiosis Law School, Noida, Army Institute of Law, Mohali, Faculty of Law, ICFAI University, Dehradun and others.
Mr. S.M Arif, Senior Counsel, Government of India & President, Central Administrative Tribunal Bar Association and Hon’ble Dr Justice G C Bharuka, Former Acting Chief Justice, Karnataka High Court graced the valediction.